Lehigh students observe the Playa Bowls menu, a healthy eatery located on 310 E. 3rd St. Playa Bowls is one of the many casual dining options in South Bethlehem. (Shana Lichaw/B&W Staff)

Bethlehem restaurants offer fast options to students, residents


South Bethlehem has always been home to a variety of food options, ranging from authentic cuisine to chain restaurants. Recently, the amount of restaurants has increased around Lehigh’s campus. Students and residents alike have been able to enjoy a broader range of casual dining options in the South Bethlehem area. 

The amount of dollar signs signify the expensiveness of the restaurant. 


Right off Asa Packer Campus, Tulum offers burritos, tacos and other Mexican food options. The food is prepared on-site on a daily basis, and the restaurant has both dine-in and take-out options. It is frequented by many Lehigh students due to its proximity to Farrington Square. Tulum is one of many eateries that accept Lehigh’s GoldPLUS.

Address: 17 W. Morton St., Bethlehem, PA 18015

Phone Number: 610-691-8300

Price Range: $

Hours: Monday – Friday 11 a.m. to  9 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., closed Sunday


El Jefe’s Taqueria:

El Jefe’s Taqueria, on East Third Street, in Southside Bethlehem. They offer “authentic Mexicano street food” every day from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. (Olivia Howell/B&W Staff)

El Jefe’s Taqueria opened in late summer 2019, and offers burritos, tacos, burrito bowls and much more for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The most popular item on the menu is the Mexican bowl. El Jefe’s Taqueria is “both quality and quantity,” store manager Dimitri Kalahanis said.

“We are an authentic Mexican taqueria,” Kalahanis said. “We do not buy anything ready-to-eat. We buy it all raw and make it here every single day. It’s fresh and delicious.”

Kalahanis compared El Jefe’s Taqueria to other restaurants in its class, like Chipotle, but said the quality is not the same. 

El Jefe’s Taqueria is constantly fulfilling Grubhub, Doordash, UberEats and in-store pick-up orders. Kalahanis said 31 percent of their sales come from delivery.

There is one other location in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

By January 2021 there will be six college-based locations. Kalahanis said this expansion is thanks to their loyal customers, including Lehigh students. 

Address: 506 E. 3rd St., Bethlehem, PA 18015

Phone Number: 610-419-2000

Price Range: $

Hours: Monday – Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 a.m.


Playa Bowls: 

Playa Bowls is a New Jersey-based chain that was added to the South Side food scene in 2017. This eatery sells fruit bowls, juices, smoothies, poke bowls and other healthy options. The poke bowls are a recent addition to the menu, added a year and a half year ago.

Students order smoothie bowls from Playa Bowls, located on East Third Street. The popular New Jersey chain offers a healthy option to Lehigh students. (Shana Lichaw/B&W Staff)

“The vibe of Playa Bowls is different,” Playa Bowls employee Dravin Warren said. “It has a surfer vibe, and I think people really enjoy that.” 

The “surfer vibe” is present inside and outside the store, as evident by the beach-themed Volkswagen parked on E. 3rd Street outside the store. 

Warren said the most popular item on the menu is a Nutella acai bowl. Since the Bethlehem location opened, a new location was added in The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley and Warren said they are looking to expand even more. 

Address: 310 E. 3rd St., Bethlehem, PA 18015

Phone Number: 610-419-4294

Price Range: $$

Hours: Monday – Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 


NYC Gyro:

The slogan for NYC Gyro is “where we got the sauce,” and it has been serving Mediterrean food in Bethlehem since August 2019. 

This fast-casual restaurant makes different types of gyros, falafel platters, kebab wraps and more. 

The restaurant has an eat-in option, or you can carry out your food. The interior of the restaurant stays true to its name and is decorated with subway tiles, New York Yankees paraphernalia and a Brooklyn Bridge mural. 

Address: 129 W. 4th St., Bethlehem, PA 18015

Phone Number: 844-692-4976

Price Range: $

Hours: Monday – Wednesday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 10 p.m.



Roasted is a breakfast and lunch place that has been open for three years. 

Chris McDermott, a chef at Roasted, said that the restaurant is a popular place for Lehigh students to eat. Along with the traditional lunch and breakfast options, there is a wide range of vegetarian and vegan food options. 

McDermott recommends any of the savory pancakes, especially the customer favorite, “El Chico.”  

“We offer a lot of specials and features that we hope are a little different than the rest of the world has to offer,” McDermott said

Address: 22 W. 4th St., Bethlehem, PA 18018

Phone Number: (610) 849-2673

Price Range: $$

Hours: Monday – Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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